Sunday, September 09, 2007

Delmar White dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'

A Kentucky National Guardsman from Lexington who had fought in both Iraq wars has been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Delmar White, 37, of Lexington, died Sunday and three others were injured while escorting a convoy in Baghdad, said Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm, Adjutant General for Kentucky. He had been deployed for less than a month.

White, a former Marine, was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He had 13 years of combined experience with the Marines and National Guard.

His wife, Michelle, said he died doing what he loved.

"He went out a hero," she said. "He was a hero before he went to Iraq, in my book."

The names of the three injured soldiers, who are also from Kentucky, were not released. But a statement said two had been taken to a hospital in Germany and one had returned to duty. All three injured soldiers had been in touch with family members, Kentucky National Guard spokesman Phil Miller said.

White, a graduate of James A. Cawood High School in Harlan, moved to Central Kentucky in January 1999. He met Michelle not long after.

His support for the war never wavered, Michelle White said.

"He was 100 percent military," she said. "If somebody started bad talking the war in front of him, he would get upset. Whether he felt we should be there or not, he was all for what the military did. He never bad-talked the military or President Bush. He was behind it 100 percent, always."

Michelle White said her husband would do anything for anybody. Her best friend's son thought of him as a second dad.

"He was a fantastic person that everybody loved," Michelle White said. "Everybody that I have talked to who knew him for a day or 10 years, they can't believe that he was the sweetest guy."

Maj. Gen. Storm called White's death "a terrible loss for the entire Kentucky National Guard family."

"Words cannot describe the grief that we all feel at this time," Storm said in a statement.

White's commander in Iraq said he was a first-class joker who never passed up a chance to play cards.

"There is a line that we are familiar with that says we will 'cheerfully obey the orders.' That was Delmar White for certain," said Capt. Robert Mattingly, commander of Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, based in Carlisle. "He was an excellent NCO, who led by example and never asked anything of his soldiers he wasn't willing to do himself.

"Delmar White was loved by everyone in the battery and will be terribly missed by all," Mattingly said.

It was the second death of a Kentucky National Guardsman in a one-week period. Staff Sgt. Nicholas R. Carnes, 25, of Ludlow in Northern Kentucky died Aug. 26 in Afghanistan of wounds from small-arms fire. Carnes was assigned to Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, based in Carrollton.

"I pain for any soldier who dies in combat," battalion commander Lt. Col. Mike Gilkey said. "Having two of them in your command in one week, it hits hard."

Funeral services for Carnes were to be held Tuesday in Northern Kentucky.

White had worked at the Fayette County Detention Center from February 2003 to December 2005, when he left to help recruit for the National Guard.

Michelle White said her husband could not stand being out of the military.

"He loved the Guard," Gilkey said "That's how much he believed in what we do."

A jail spokesman said White was a good employee who did his job well.

"The jail is obviously saddened by hearing about his death," Capt. Darin Kelly said. "But at the same time, we are proud of the contributions he made to our country."

White is also survived by two children; his stepmother, Hazel White; and a brother, Robbie Christopher.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher directed that flags at all state office buildings remain at half-staff in White's honor until the day of his funeral. The flags currently are at half-staff to honor Carnes.

From the Herald Leader